JANUARY 6, 2007
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - With Marco Antonio Barrera out of the picture, Manny Pacquiao has started shopping around for an opponent whom he will face at the Wynn Hotel in Macau on April 28.

Pacquiao already has in his hands the list of probable opponents, a list that includes fighters from Japan, Brazil, Mexico, South African and the Dominican Republic.

Curiously, the 28-year-old Pacquiao did not mention the name of Edwin Valero, the undefeated knockout artist from Venezuela who challenged the Filipino to a fight the other day.

Valero needed only 72 seconds to get rid of Mexican Michael Lozada in Tokyo. It was his 21st victory in as many fights, all of them coming by way of knockout.

"I want Manny Pacquiao next. I hope Bob Arum is listening," said Valero, who despite his shining ring record has failed to impress the hard-hitting Filipino.

"Uhugin naman mga naka-kalaban niya eh (He has had greenhorns for opponents)," Pacquiao said yesterday as to how Valero had accumulated such a record.

More than a month ago, Pacquiao also made fun of Valero, describing the latter’s opponents as "tricycle drivers." Obviously, this did not sit well with the Venezuelan.

"I don’t want to hear from Manny a lot of excuses to fight me. If our fight will happen, he will realize that he too is a cab (tricycle) driver," said Valero.

Still, Pacquiao refused to bite.

Instead, Pacquiao mentioned Nobohito Honmo (29-4-2) and Yusuke Kobori (18-2-1) of Japan, Agnaldo Nunez (17-1-1) of Brazil, Guadalupe Rosales (21-1-0) of Mexico, Malcolm Klassen (19-3-2) of South Africa and Francisco Lorenzo (27-3) of the Dominican Republic as his possible opponent in April.

Whoever gets the call will definitely be in for a big fight, and most probably the biggest paycheck of their respective careers. Pacquiao is hoping to earn around $5 million for his next fight.

Not in Pacquiao’s list, but hotly considered as an ongoing poll at the Pacquiao website would show were In Jin Chi (WBC 126 lb champion), Joan Guzman (WBO 130 lb champion), Chris John (WBA 126 lb champion) and Humberto Soto (WBC contender).

Will BAP kick out Jinggoy? SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson The Philippine Star 01/05/2007

Just when everybody thought that the country’s leadership crisis in basketball was about to be settled, Lito Puyat has resurfaced to throw a monkey wrench into the peace negotiations.

Two days before Christmas, Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) president Sen. Jinggoy Estrada announced his landmark agreement with Philippine Long Distance Tel. Co. (PLDT) chairman Manny Pangilinan to join hands in ending the crisis that led to the Philippine suspension by FIBA (Federation Internationale de Basketball Amateur) two years ago.

The suspension disqualified the Philippines from defending its basketball title at the Southeast Asian Games here in December 2005, competing in the FIBA-Asia qualifiers for the World Championships and playing in the recent Doha Asian Games. If the suspension is not lifted soon, the Philippines will lose the chance of playing in the FIBA-Asia qualifiers for the Beijing Olympics.

Estrada took over as BAP president after former Sen. Joey Lina resigned the position when it became apparent he could not comply with the terms of the Tokyo communiqué binding the BAP and Pilipinas Basketball (PB) to self-destruct in establishing a unified body.

The Tokyo communiqué was signed by BAP and PB representatives in the presence of FIBA and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) officials in Tokyo last August. It called for the formation of a three-man panel to orchestrate a merger. Pangilinan, Lina and PB president Bernie Atienza were named to comprise the panel.

Lina and Atienza subsequently lost their mandate to serve in the panel, leaving Pangilinan alone to man the fort. Lina quit as BAP president while Atienza resigned as St. Benilde athletic director and PB president. As Lina’s successor, Estrada has inherited the right to represent the BAP in the panel. The next-in-line in the PB hierarchy, vice president Jun-Jun Capistrano, should take Atienza’s place in the panel.

Puyat was a two-term FIBA president although he neither controlled nor influenced the organization’s affairs. It’s no secret that the secretary-general holds the reins in FIBA. In Puyat’s time, the man in charge was Borislav Stankovic. Today, it is Patrick Baumann who calls the shots on a day-to-day basis although the power behind the throne is Stankovic as secretary-general emeritus.

When Puyat was BAP president, he was chastised for his dictatorial ways and caused the creation of the pro league Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) in 1975 as a way for the country’s top teams to escape his clutches.

Not surprisingly, the PBA flourished as the BAP floundered.

Puyat eventually had a falling out with the new generation of leaders in the BAP. He attempted a comeback but lost in an election for BAP president to Tiny Literal in 2001. Puyat then realized to sneak his way back into the BAP, he had to play ball with the enigmatic secretary-general Graham Lim.

With the Tokyo communiqué signed and sealed, it looked like the BAP’s days were numbered. It had previously been unseated as a member of the POC general assembly by expulsion but for some strange reason that has political implications, continued to be recognized as a country affiliate by FIBA.

The only thing that’s keeping the BAP alive is its FIBA recognition. If the BAP’s ties to FIBA are cut, it is reduced to nothingness.

Suddenly, as if on a white horse, Puyat has barged back into the scene of conflict and is calling for the BAP’s reinstatement as a National Sports Association (NSA)–because of tradition.

Puyat has locked arms with Lim in an alliance of unlikely bedfellows and is now the BAP chairman emeritus. Whether the BAP by-laws provides for such a position or not is uncertain. It is not even certain if the by-laws provide for a chairman. But then again, the BAP is not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) so what by-laws are there to talk about? It’s not even sure what kind of an identity the BAP has–which is the reason why the Philippine Sports Commission is constrained from doling out assistance to the body.

Puyat and his new cohorts are not about to take the BAP’s imminent collapse sitting down, regardless of Estrada’s pronouncements. They want the BAP to stay alive, regain its membership in the POC General Assembly and continue to enjoy the privileges of a FIBA country affiliate–never mind the collateral damage to the country.

In a statement, Puyat said the BAP is firm in adhering to the terms of the Tokyo communiqué but contradicted himself by lashing out at the unified body, the Samahang Basketbol Ng Pilipinas (SBP), as a non-entity that cannot be recognized by FIBA. In case Puyat hasn’t read the communiqué, a stipulation is for the BAP and PB to merge into a single, unified organization that will seek membership in the POC General Assembly and take the BAP’s place as the FIBA’s Philippine affiliate. That organization was later named the SBP.

How Estrada will react to Puyat’s rantings is a question mark. Estrada was not present during a recent BAP Executive Board meeting where Puyat, Lim, lawyer Boni Alentajan, Tony Fabico and Fritz Gaston decided to keep the BAP flag flying or bust.

Estrada has reportedly reaffirmed his position that he will abide by the terms of the Tokyo communiqué. That means he will support the BAP’s collapse and the SBP’s emergence. Puyat and company are opposing the BAP’s termination–presumably because it would eliminate them from the leadership equation. Will it signal a move to oust Estrada as BAP president?

If the BAP figured Estrada to be a puppet when he was appointed president, it got a wake-up call when he announced his agreement with Pangilinan.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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